Grand Rapids group holding town hall on Green New Deal

Ysabela Golden

It’s no secret that American politics have come to a boiling point, but that turbulent landscape seems to be bringing new voices and ideas to mainstream political dialogue. For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is infamous for her working class background, her distinction as the youngest woman to have ever served in the United States Congress and her radical political platforms, the most oft-discussed of late being the Green New Deal.

That’s why the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization combating the climate crisis, is encouraging their communities to learn about the Green New Deal and make their voices heard through a series of town hall meetings all across America. “The Road to the Green New Deal” is coming to Grand Rapids on May 23, thanks to the local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, co-founded by GVSU student Margaux Sellnau.

“The point of the Road to the Green New Deal Tour and town halls is to bring a Green New Deal to every corner of the country,” said Sellnau. “It is important to note that we are not the only town hall happening, but there are hundreds of other town halls taking place to unite people around the Green New Deal.” 

In an interview with NPR about the policy package introduced by herself and Sen. Ed Markey, Ocasio-Cortez outlined the measures their Green New Deal would take to cut carbon emissions across the country. 

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “No one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with the Green New Deal.” 

Though ambitious, the proposal aims to protect those Americans who would be disproportionately affected by the 10-year mobilization of economic transition that it calls for. The goal is to replace fossil fuels with clean energy in a way that lifts up Americans, not financially hampers them.

Through Sunrise Movement events, the group aims to give communities a chance to express what they need to make the movement a more cohesive reality. But local meetings aren’t all that’s necessary to carry this legislature into law. 

“Students should be watching for how candidates talk about climate change and the Green New Deal,” Sellnau said. “At the end of the day, it is integral that we hold them accountable and pressure political leaders to take climate more seriously as an urgent priority in politics across the nation.” 

The town hall meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 23 at the Trinity United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids. Attendees will get to hear about what they can benefit from the Green New Deal from leaders in the Grand Rapids community. 

Speakers will include Joel Campbell from the Democratic Socialists of America and Grand Rapid’s ecosocialist caucus, followed by musician, activist and organizer Seth Bernard. Sellnau said the keynote speaker will be released closer to the event.

There are only 100 seats available, so those interested should RSVP at as soon as possible.